COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – The Ohio Chamber of Commerce came out against a November ballot issue that seeks to legalize marijuana, with its leaders saying Wednesday that the business organization would contribute $100,000 and other resources to help defeat the proposal.
The chamber’s president and CEO, Andy Doehrel, told reporters that the group’s board has several workplace concerns about the initiative, known as Issue 3.
Doehrel said the proposed marijuana amendment would cause uncertainty for businesses who drug test employees. He said members were concerned about the effects it could have on employee safety and productivity.
“This proposal is going to create nothing but uncertainty and confusion in the workplace,” Doehrel said.
The head of the group ResponsibleOhio, which backs Issue 3, accused the chamber of “fear mongering” and said employers could still maintain their rights to establish drug-free policies.
“After Issue 3 passes in November, I’ll be interested to see if the Chamber still maintains the same principles and rejects the thousands of retail businesses and product manufacturers who could become members of their organization,” Ian James, ResponsibleOhio’s executive director, said in a written statement.
Passage of Issue 3 on Nov. 3 would make Ohio a rare state to go from entirely outlawing marijuana to allowing it for all uses in a single vote.
Under the proposed constitutional amendment, adults 21 or older could purchase marijuana for medicinal or other uses and grow four plants for personal use. It creates a network of 10 authorized growing locations around the state, some that have already attracted private investors, and lays out a regulatory and taxation scheme for cannabis.
The chamber Wednesday also endorsed Issue 2, a measure that would prohibit constitutional amendments from creating “a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel” – in effect taking aim at the 10 growing facilities that would be established under the marijuana proposal.
The chamber already announced support for Issue 1, which would overhaul the way Ohio draws state legislative districts.
Ohio Chamber board chairman Tom Zaino said the organization would contribute $10,000 to help pass Issue 1 and $50,000 in support of Issue 2.
The chamber also will use its clout as Ohio’s oldest and largest business group to educate members on its issue positions. Member businesses will be provided educational materials that they can then share with their employees.
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